In Wisconsin last week, I went to a spa with my mother, older sister, and my aunt. The plan was to grab lunch poolside then each get massages. Like a fun little girls’ trip, which we never do and I was very into. Even though massages tend to make me antsy (what’s that? that’s the exact opposite effect massages are supposed to have? cool, I know).
We got there early and changed into our robes and slippers. As soon as we made it out to the pool, I dropped the robe to get some color on my swimsuit’d self, grabbing a lounge chair directly in the sun.
My aunt? Not so much. She’s super fair-skinned, and she was happy enough to enjoy the sunshine…from the shade.
She sat down at a patio table across from the lounge chairs my sister and I had commandeered and set about trying to put up its umbrella. She struggled for a few minutes, with the contraption making a few worrying ratcheting sounds. Giving up on that idea, she next looked around for a waiter who might be able to help with the technical aspects of the rigging.
But all the staff in their spa-appointed chino shorts and polos were busy serving other patrons mai tai’s and “detox” salads.
I was watching all this unfold, quite unhelpfully, from my very comfortable lounge chair in the blazing midday sun when my aunt did something small, but which struck me as ingenious and I’ve been thinking about ever since.
Realizing she couldn’t raise the umbrella without potentially causing bodily harm to herself or other spa-goers (which is probably a violation of the ‘spa voices’ rule, right?), she gave up. On that plan.
To the left of the table whose umbrella she’d been wrestling with, was another table, just like it, with one big difference. Its umbrella was already up.
So my aunt grabbed her cucumber water and just…moved a table over.
Just then, my attendant came and retrieved me for my massage (do you hate me yet? I swear I don’t do this kind of thing often), and off I shuffled in my locker room-distributed sandals, leaving my aunt to her sun-free outdoor sun time.
All through my stress-relieving massage, I thought about my aunt’s pragmatic solution to her sunshine problem.
How often do we sweat and toil after what we think is the only solution? “Need shade. Must put up this umbrella.” “Need to raise my income…I’ll stay late every night til the boss notices me and gives me a promotion.” “Better style will get me all the girls…must attain perfect body then purchase all-new wardrobe.”
I know I’m guilty of setting my sights on one path as if it’s literally the one path, without considering if perhaps there might be an easier way to still get exactly what I want. I have to open THIS umbrella. I have to get promoted at this company. I have to have the perfect body, spend a ton of money to live with more style.
But it’s not true. There very well may be a simpler fix, like the one my aunt found, that would help me achieve my goal, without risking personal injury, or even doing all that much work.
I’m curious, what might be the “table to your left” in your life? Obviously, if you already knew it, you’d be going after it already…or maybe not! Sometimes the simple solution feels like the wrong one because of its simplicity – It can’t be that easy…can it? – that we ruin it with unnecessary complications. Maybe it’s time to find a new job or add a separate revenue stream to your income. Or it’s time to acknowledge and accept your body where it’s at and take your clothes to the tailor to fit the body you have now, instead of starting from scratch. Maybe it’s about moving one table over, not opening the umbrella.
HAVE YOU EVER “MOVED ONE TABLE OVER” TO SOLVE A PROBLEM? WHAT WAS YOUR “AHA” MOMENT FOR FINDING RESOLUTION?